It’s a refreshing, recurring theme, after decades of popular thought that “making” lives in the shadow of that all-important exception of making money, or is relegated to the realm of hobby.
We life-long makers often find we have to defend the attention we spend on learning our craft, acquiring our skills. These things take time, and in the absence of any formal training we will carve out space wherever we can. For me, it was about escaping the classroom to papier-mache a bottle (or cut out giant tissue-paper flowers or silkscreen T-shirts or turn clay bowls) then escaping the office to stitch bed quilts (or build chests or reupholster furniture or braid rugs) until I finally allowed myself to make space for full-time making.
This is why I was in my element as part of Vancouver’s second annual Mini Maker Faire last weekend, a convergence of maker-geeks at the Forum building in Hastings Park in East Van. From weaving to robotics, this is my kind of place. Part market, part installation, part classroom, the real value is in what you know or can learn, not what you have or can buy.
This was the perfect spot to install our Network, a chaotic, collaborative, ongoing public artwork that is simple enough for anyone to add to it. For two days, people tied/braided/knotted/wove/wound strips of synthetic fabrics to the web/maze/forest/snarl, and in the process got the opportunity to connect with others who are naturally drawn to working with their hands. Little boys escaped into imaginary worlds under the sculpture. Bigger girls braided and chatted in groups of twos and threes. We thought we would be spending the two days coaxing visitors to participate by explaining the purpose and function of this random, ongoing fibre sculpture, but it clearly wasn’t necessary. Making is quite enough for anyone drawn to an event like this.